Heart Choices: 2008-11-30 -->

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Stress, Depression and the Holidays

Christmas should be “the most wonderful time of the year". After all, isn't that what the song says?

But for too many people, stress and depression can ruin this special time.

Have you ever set yourself up with...
  • Unrealistic expectations of the 'perfect' family get together?

  • RSVP'd to way too many parties?

  • Spent days and hours searching for just the right gift for everyone on your list?

  • Cleaned the house 'til it was spotless?

  • Baked way too many cookies, pies and cakes? Of course, you've got to taste them too.

  • Stayed up to all hours to finish decorating the house?
Isn't this supposed to be the time of year for peace and joy?

And what about getting in touch with the real reason we celebrate Christmas; the birth of Jesus?

I tried to pinpoint a few areas that often trigger stress and/or depression during this time of year.

Money issues: Love does not have to equal spending lots of money. Right now, finances are often a topic of discussion given our current economic crisis.

Maybe this is the year to consider adding a few new traditions? What about making gifts? Or volunteering with your children at the food bank or participating in the Shoe Box Ministry or some other local opportunity?

I remember when I was a child, we couldn't afford lots of expensive gifts. But our family was all together and we were thankful.

Relationships: Families consist of imperfect people who often spend more time together during this season. Tensions may be heightened with all this togetherness.

If someone close to you has died, this can be a very difficult time. My mom died almost four years ago and I miss her more at this time. I have so many fond memories of Christmas time spent with her.

Fatigue: Do you ever feel like this photo of my niece Katie? Exhausted from the strain of shopping, baking, cleaning, parties, your childrens' activities?

When you're tired, stress and depression can increase. The demands of the season, the overeating and lack of exercise can trigger more problems.

So, how will you deal with these potential trigger points this Christmas season?

Money, relationships and physical demands.

I'd love to hear any thoughts and suggestions you might share.


My 100th Blog Post

I can't believe this is my 100th blog post!

I'm certainly glad that it's the blog and not my 100th birthday I'm celebrating. At least ... not yet!

Since I don't want to bore anyone with 100 things about me, I'm going to write 10 things I've learned since I began to blog.

So, without further ado ... here's my list.

  1. Blogging takes time, effort and research: There have been times when I could just sit down and knock out a post in no time at all but that's not the norm. I'm a fast writer as long as I know my subject and what I want to say.
  2. Blogging has opened up a new world to me: I never knew so many blogs existed. But if you check my list of the blogs I follow, there are so many. And yes, I always try to keep up with their updates. I learn new things on a wide variety of subjects all the time. After all, I'm a life long learner.
  3. Blogging has provided me with new friends from around the world: I get so excited to meet new people through blogging. I've met L-Jay from Norway, Philip from Cyprus, Laurel and Debra from Florida, Meg from Maine, Lisa from Michigan, Sandy from Kentucky, and I even discovered some blogging friends from my own state of Arizona.
  4. Blogging is an extension of my journal: I've journaled for about 15 years now. It's fun to read things I wrote years ago. I've had seasons of great fun and happiness and then other times of struggle and challenge. I like to think that I'm content in ALL things, but I've got to admit that sometimes it's not always easy.
  5. Blogging helps me learn about social media: Initially, I began to blog to learn about this growing field. My husband asked me to help with his latest entrepreneural venture. So in the process, I discovered Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, Alltop, StumbleUpon, experts who write blogs about social media, SEO, and lots more.
  6. Blogging keeps me up to date on my topic: The focus of Heart Choices is to make healthier choices that impact body, mind and spirit. After all, it's our day to day choices that determine what our tomorrows become. I read books, articles, blogs and papers on heart health, motivation, the Bible, and many other sources. Hey, maybe this will keep my brain working as I get older.
  7. Bloggers are a source of encouragement: When I first started blogging, I wasn't consistent. There would be a long stretch between posts. If I could point to one thing that changed that, I would have to say Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa was our keynote speaker at my church's Woman to Woman Conference. I had the privilege of being the Phoenix hostess for Lysa and Holly's (her BFF and helper) stay. She told me that she has established the habit of writing a blog post five days a week. Lysa also shared something with me that I immediately wrote down. She said, "God is developing your character to match your calling in the fields of everyday life". That has encouraged me tremendously. Thanks, Lysa!
  8. Bloggers love feedback and comments: It can be lonely spending days on the computer between my "real job" and blogging. I get so excited when I see that someone took the time to add a comment. I know that some of my friends are only learning about blogs and many are reluctant or unsure about how to do this. But I want to thank those who stepped outside of their comfort zone to support me. And I thank the many bloggers who take time to visit and add their thoughts and feedback. You're great!
  9. Blogging teaches me about patience: It takes time to build a readership and people who follow you. It takes consistent and interesting posting. It takes time to find other blogs in your niche and add your comments to theirs.
  10. Blogging helps me to grow: I can't begin to tell you how blogging has enriched my life. It's helped me improve my writing skills. I've even communicated with publishers and authors. How cool is that?

So, I owe a big thank you to friends new and old who take the time to visit and maybe even ...comment on my blog. I appreciate every one of you!


World Aids Day ~ December 1

Bloggers Unite
December 1st is World Aids Day! BlogCatalog has joined with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of HIV/AIDS Policy for Bloggers Unite for World Aid's Day. You can access resources to learn more by clicking on the links.

1981 was the year we first began to hear about cases of AIDS. I was working as a nurse and there was so much misinformation and fear associated with it. It reminded me of things I'd read about leprosy in the Bible, where people were quarantined and isolated from others. A terrible stigma accompanied that label.

At first, the disease was associated with drug addicts, not everyday people we'd come in contact with. But then I heard the story of Elizabeth Glaser, the wife of actor Paul Glaser of Starsky and Hutch. She had contracted the disease from a blood transfusion during childbirth; an innocent victim. She put a face to this dreadful disease.

Much more research was needed to try to understand ways to treat and hopefully prevent this disease.

Do you know the global facts?
  • 33.2 million people now live with HIV or AIDS.
  • In 2007, approximately 2.5 million people were infected with HIV.
  • Every day, over 6800 people become infected with HIV - almost five people per minute.
  • 5700 people die from AIDS every day.
  • One child dies every minute.
  • 15 million children around the world have been orphaned by AIDS, losing one or both parents to the disease.
  • Every fifteen seconds, another person age 15-24 becomes infected with HIV/AIDS.
World AIDS Day began in 1988 when health ministers from around the world met and agreed to establish this day to provide an opportunity for people to come together to raise awareness of AIDS and show solidarity for the cause. The theme for 2008 World AIDS Day is leadership.

World Vision is an organization that works to help children, families, and communities tackle the problems of poverty and injustice. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has jeopordized much of their relief and development work. Sick parents can't work or grow food and children often leave school to care for them and to work.

World Vision began a program called the Hope Initiative, which is focused on:

  • Prevention of the disease, with education particularly aimed at children 5 to 15
  • Care for people infected and affected by AIDS, especially orphans and vulnerable children
  • Advocay on behalf of those affected by AIDS

So, what can you do on World AIDS Day?

  • If you're a blogger, you can join in, grab a badge and add your own post to raise awareness.
  • You can sponsor a Hope child through World Vision; a child that has been impacted personally.

Even though this is a huge problem, we can each do our part to get the word out and help in even small ways. I've sponsored a child through World Vision for many years and ...it's such a blessing to participate.

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